Dinner at the Ranch

Basil-infused Marinara Sauce

Recipe: Basil-infused Marinara Sauce

Summary: An olive oil infu­sion forms the basis for a sim­ple, fla­vor­ful and juicy sauce.


  • 14 C. extra vir­gin olive oil
  • 12 yel­low onion, large or 1 small
  • 8–10 gar­lic cloves
  • black pep­per
  • 1 C. fresh basil leaves, chif­fon­ade
  • 12 t. min­er­al salt
  • 8 oz. can organ­ic toma­toes, chopped or diced (not sauce)
  • 1 C. bal­sam­ic vine­gar


  1. Put the bal­sam­ic vine­gar into a wide sauté pan and put over high heat. While you pre­pare the sauce, reduce the vine­gar to maple syrup con­sis­ten­cy. It’s tricky, so pay atten­tion to it. Don’t inhale the fumes.
  2. Chop onions and gar­lic, 14″ pieces
  3. Put the olive oil, onions and gar­lic in a saucepan over medi­um heat. Grind in a gen­er­ous amount of black pep­per.
  4. Keep stir­ring the sim­mer­ing onions and gar­lic, and when it’s begin­ning to bub­ble, turn the heat down to it’s low­est set­ting.
  5. Simmer for prob­a­bly 15–20 min­utes, until the onion is translu­cent and the gar­lic is soft and begin­ning to brown. If you’ve got the heat right, there won’t be any burn­ing, stick­ing or need to stir it while it’s sim­mer­ing.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the basil. It will seem quite a lot, but push it in so it is all immersed in the oil. Let this steep for 5 min­utes or so.
  7. Add the salt and toma­toes, turn the heat on low and stir­ring occa­sion­al­ly, bring the sauce to tem­per­a­ture. Don’t cook it, just get it hot, then turn off the heat.
  8. Add a table­spoon of the bal­sam­ic reduc­tion. Use some of what’s left to gar­nish the plate for ser­vice.


This sauce is well suit­ed to ravi­o­li, gnoc­chi, papardelle, or bruschet­ta.


Fresh toma­toes — add 1 12 C. chopped fresh toma­to instead of the canned. If you have access to good toma­toes, this is pre­ferred.

This sauce is sim­ply fla­vored by design, but oth­er spices such as fen­nel seed or crushed red pep­per added at the begin­ning of the sim­mer­ing might be nice.

Other Alliums such as scal­lions, shal­lots, or chives would make a nice addi­tion or sub­sti­tu­tion.

Substitute the bal­sam­ic reduc­tion with white wine; add 12 C. of it as the onions and gar­lic are fin­ished, but before adding the basil. Simmer the sauce until the alco­hol from the wine is gone, then pro­ceed with the recipe.

Microformatting by hRecipe.

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